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Expectation vs. reality: networking

| Casie Kamph

If you’ve heard of networking, you probably have a few ideas of what it could entail. What if we told you some of these expectations you have could be far from reality? There are so many misconceptions about networking and we don’t want you to miss out on an opportunity that could benefit you in ways you’d never imagine.

Expectation: Networking is only for extroverts.

Reality: Anyone and everyone can network. The entire basis of networking is to get to know people, so if you spend your time chatting with one person and someone else is meeting numerous people, don’t sweat it! Every connection is important.

Expectation: Networking requires a lot of small talk.

Reality: While you can start off with small talk, it’s not uncommon to chat about your work, family or academics. You normally only have a fixed amount of time with these professionals, so utilize your time and go for the big topics.

Expectation: Networking is pushy.

Reality: Networking is meant to take place in a relaxed atmosphere so you can be comfortable chatting with anyone and everyone. Networking does not mean interviewing. You’re getting to know people and letting people get to know you. Who knows? It could lead to some jobs in the future, but that’s not the main focus.

Expectation: Networking doesn’t seem worthwhile as a freshman or sophomore.

Reality: Networking is valuable at any stage of your life or college career. No matter where you’re at, getting to know someone who could be a mentor, reference or employer is never a bad thing. Learning about someone and their company could help spark an interest in you, leading you to a future you could have never imagined for yourself.

Expectation: Business professionals are required to do networking events.

Reality: No business professional is required to go to networking events. This is something the professionals want to do. They volunteered to be there, just so they could meet you and become someone who could help you in any way they can.

If you’re nervous for your first networking experience, keep this on hand or go chat with someone in the Advising, Retention and Career Center for tips and tricks and workshops on how to prepare for an event. Our best piece of advice? Be yourself. Be relaxed. Then you’ll easily “wow” whoever you’re talking to.